Shan environmental activist Nang Phoo Pyi Mon is about to embark on the 2015 International Antarctica Expedition together with other young leaders from around the world to study the drastic effects climate change is having on the South Pole.
The activist told The Irrawaddy that she will be joining the expedition on Friday. “I will be learning about how climate change is affecting our earth during the trip from the experienced leaders in environmentalism and also share my country’s experiences” in environmental issues, Nang Phoo said.
“Burma also is affected by the global warming, due to the enormous deforestation, especially in the Chin State,” she said. “Of course, the waste management in Inle Lake area is also [environmentally] important.”
“I’m very excited and happy to go on this adventurous trip,” said Nang Phoo, who works for the Inle Speak Community Center in Nyaung Shwe, Shan State, adding that she expected to learn about climate change and build leadership skills during the trip.
“I am not an experienced environmentalist, but I want to be one [person] who maintains our earth and contribute as much as I can,” she said.
Nang Phoo will be among a group of international environmentalists from across the globe who will go on a 12-day program that will bring them from Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world, by boat to the Antarctic Peninsula. There they will see islands and areas that are home to unique ecosystems and animals that are faced with rapid changes because of climate change.
International Antarctica Expedition is an organization of Robert Swan, a well-known British polar explorer and environmentalist who aims to raise awareness about climate change among young environmental leaders around the world.
An English language trainer, Nang Phoo, 25, works for the Inle Speak Community Center, in Nyaung Shwe, a local community development group working to promote the capacity of local tour guides, environmental preservation and women’s empowerment.
Partnership for Changes, a Norwegian NGO that supports the Inle Speak Center, helped to arrange and sponsor Nang Phoo’s visit to Antarctica. “She is very committed to helping Myanmar have a better future,” the NGO’s executive director Barbara Bauer said. “Phoo is very smart. She got a lot of initiative; she got a lot of curiosity and a sense of adventure.”